Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fish Head Fish Head

It’s another date-night dinner story, but trust me. This is a good’un.

There were three fish dishes on the menu and a fish special. You know how much Auntie loves her fish. I eliminated the one that was served whole, and then ordered pretty much at random.

The waiter brought me Finding Nemo’s bigger cousin. In his fishy entirety. The expression on his not-small face was pretty much what you’d expect after it’d been kidnapped and flash fried.

After quickly turning the plate so Cousin Nemo couldn’t see me, I gave Robert a piteous look. He said to the two hovering waiters, “Would you please ask the chef to decapitate that for her?”

The waiters shared a frustrated glance and refused.

“We can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because the chef just won’t do it. We’ve asked him before. He won’t.”

So my lovely, valiant, stalwart Robert reached out a massive hand and pulled Cousin Nemo’s head right off his fishy body!

Bam! Pow! Splat!

Okay, there was no noise, but there should have been.

The two waiters and I just stared.

Robert stood up. “I’ll just take this into the kitchen and give it to him myself then.”

Obviously, he didn’t. They stopped him. They grabbed Robert’s bread plate and whisked Cousin Nemo’s head away. I was left staring at what looked to me like a headless corpse. Robert was left staring at his entrée because his knife and fork had been on the bread plate.

When the waiter brought Robert new cutlery, he also brought me a new entrée. Turns out Cousin Nemo had been destined for another table. My real order was an expressionless (and delicious) rectangle. Phew all around.

But what I didn’t tell you is that the chef had been on my beloved Top Chef.

The show made him look like an arrogant dick. That could be editing, but refusing to help customers remove the head from their food seems dickish to me. In his defense, apparently when the waiters told him what had happened, he laughed and said, “You should’ve let him come back here.”

I liked that and I liked his food, and, in the end, I like this story.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Skin Deep

We all know attractive people. I don’t mean people who are beautiful on the inside. I’m talking about shallow, superficial, probably genetic, good looks.

(Google inspirational blogs if you want a discussion of good deeds and purity of the soul.)

When I was your age, people used to tell me I was beautiful. I honestly never believed it, so hooray for a total lack of self-esteem! Not kidding. Think how arrogant Auntie might have been with self-esteem.

Eventually I started to accept that what I saw in the mirror wasn’t what showed on the outside. Coincidentally, that was about the time when “You look great!” turned into “You look fine for your age.”

Oh well. As a former (male) ingénue friend of mine says, “It’s better than no love at all.”

Relax. I’m not going to whine about Time and Inevitability any more than I would whine about traffic. What is, is, and what isn’t, sure as hell will be. Sack up now, sunshine. You’ll see.

Instead, I want to talk about how we defer to beauty. It’s okay, I do it too.

Of course people defer to wealth and power no matter how much we may bitch about both. But other than the most unlikely fantasy fulfillment, there is no expectation of reward from mere beauty. Like the rich and powerful, they’re not nicer, more generous or even more polite.

Unless they’re smart, in which case yes, they’re all that and then some because they know they’re memorable. Stupid pretty people aren’t afraid of karma. I’d say pity them, but we’re not gonna.

We’re still going to watch them when we’re out and about. They’ll be served first in restaurants and helped first in stores. You’re more likely to hold a door open for one of them. By my personal tally, one of them is more likely to cut you off in traffic than one of us. You can start keeping your own score now.

The good news is that pretty people are outnumbered. They’re also outclassed by the one thing that’s even more attractive than hotness, although it’s just as much of a trope. Just like paper covers rock, a sense of humor beats perfect features and a flawless complexion any day.

We might like to look at a stunning face and yearn for that fabulous figure, but if you’re stuck on an airplane for three hours, you’re better off with someone who can keep you entertained on the tarmac.

Yeah, I know should say something funny here but I have to go. I have a sudden urge to exfoliate something.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Only In L.A.


My Yesterday In Montage

Skipped the gym (yes, again) to go out to breakfast where I ran into another gym regular (shut up, if they know me I still count as a regular.) We don’t speak in the gym, but we chatted almost-but-not-quite like pals in BeaBea’s. Shared guilt is wonderfully inclusive.

The sullen-faced teenaged girl clomping through Target wore a long sleeved, thick black hoodie with sweatpants and Uggs --- in 90 degree heat! Maybe it’s because the store is air conditioned, but that doesn’t explain how she got through the parking lot dressed like that.

Drivers honestly believe that the most expensive car has the right of way. This works in both directions. I’m talking to you, Corolla. You had the right of way both legally and morally, yet you deferred to that pushy Beemer. Stiffen your axles and take your proper turn next time.

The guy at the vitamin store was surprised then annoyed that I don’t have a Burger King versus McDonald’s preference. He works in a vitamin store, fer chrissake. He should know by now the type of customers they get. Nuff said.

The good Improv shows (not an oxymoron, you snarky devil) all happen late at night. Hollywood Boulevard, late on a Monday night, is still replete with local character(s), an occasional tourist, and the ubiquitous scent of urine.

The theater or club, or whatever you want to call the place where Robert was performing, has a full bar. Thus, they card everyone on the way in. I’ve seen a few shows there and had to drag out my antediluvian driver’s license every time. Not tonight. The bouncer/gatekeeper/sentinel checked everyone else – everyone! – but my wrist was stamped without a second glance. Even the only guy who is older than I am had to show his i.d.. Grr.

After the show, in homage to high schools everywhere, we all stood around outside talking like cool kids. Remember, this is right on Hollywood Blvd, at around midnight. Some poor shlub was walking slowly west, surrounded by four or five people with various types of sound and camera equipment. Eventually the sad, straggling, scruffy micro-circus came back the other way. Apparently the shlub is on TV, significantly enough to warrant paparazzi, but not significantly enough for them to care.

Don’t bother asking me who the shlub is. He wasn’t from Leverage or Top Chef, ergo I have no idea. I’m really trying not to be smug about that.

And then I wrote this. End montage. Good night.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Buona Sera

It’s way after midnight right now so I can’t call and tell you what happened at dinner tonight. Then again, I have no idea who you are, so I probably don’t have your phone number. Besides, I rarely phone anyone except my mother. (She doesn't text.)

Never mind, I’m writing it all down to amuse myself and because I’m buzzingly awake from the double espresso at the end of the meal.

Oops! Spoiler alert!

Nah, I’m just messing with you, though the espresso was real.

The dinner story: I was at the Italian place across from Danger Room. (DangerRoomImprov on Facebook, look'em up. Click "like") I eat there before I go to Danger Room, which means almost every Friday.

I have a regular waiter who is Italian of the both-sides-of-the-face kissing variety. It’s okay, he really is from Italy. The other waiter comes by to say hi too. He’s just as Italian, but via the Bronx. The Sicilian chef calls me “darling” because I am visibly female. They always give me these fabulous little sugar cookies that aren’t on the dessert menu. Mmm. Cookies.

But I digress. You get the point. I'm a regular.

Of course the hostess doesn’t bother giving me a menu -- not because I’ve already memorized the relevant parts (which I have) but because I don’t order anything. Food is brought to me. There is a difference.

Here’s what happens: My personal waiter verifies that I will eat whatever ingredients he has in mind, in tonight’s case, shrimp. Then he disappears. I read my book. I visit with the pleasant bussers or the hostess. Delicious food appears that may or may not be on the menu.

Tonight it was a composed arugula salad with mango chutney and grilled shrimp. I chatted with the Italy-Italian waiter about it. He spoke of the inspiration offered by special customers, and the desire to make something unique for them. I missed a lot because of his accent, but that’s the gist.

Then he disappeared and brought me some lovely lobster bisque.

While I was enjoying my soup (mmm soup!) the Bronx-Italian waiter took an order at a table behind me. He listed the day’s specials, which included – you guessed it – arugula salad with mango chutney and grilled shrimp.

Ha. Busted! It wasn’t made uniquely for moi, or however you say moi in Italian. Not that I care. It was good, I was happy, and the cookie they gave me with my espresso had apricot in it. Yay for me!

But it’s a silly little reminder to take everything with a grain of salt, and maybe some freshly ground pepper.

Just kidding. The metaphorical salt is plenty.

Ciao, belli amici!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Heavy Duty

Some of us don’t always eat right or get enough exercise. Don’t bother with a show of hands. We know who we are, and besides, I hope to get back in the gym the day after tomorrow.

It’s easy to give up on a painful, tiresome, or simply un-fun duty when we’re only hurting ourselves. It’s our choice, our price to pay, et cetera, etc.

Note: This only applies to anything boring, arduous or otherwise un-preferable. Think about it. How often do you put off good stuff? Of course you don’t. Why would you?

Procrastination is usually the path of least resistance. Avoiding responsibility is so much easier than shouldering a burden that the path of least resistance should be gridlocked by now.

Metaphorically speaking, I suppose it is.

We procrastinate when we’re lazy or tired or fed up. We procrastinate when the job/chore/obligation is difficult or uncomfortable. We procrastinate whenever we’re, well, awake.

Laziness may not always beat discipline, but bet the odds.

Those odds suddenly reverse whenever other people are involved. It’s a lot harder to be lazy when being lazy will let someone else down.

Letting people down sucks. It can even hurt. I hate doing it. So I try not to.

Like the late and much beloved Douglas Adams once said, that’s where it all falls apart, you see.

Trying to get through an entire day without disappointing anyone is like trying to get through an entire day without spending any money. It sounds a lot easier than it is.

To be fair, I’m at a disadvantage. I have a cute little dog who is disappointed by a general lack of global domination, which is somehow my fault for being stingy with the treat jar.

Duty may sound like what I pick up after the aforementioned cute little dog, and it’s a word we don’t hear much these days, but duty is still a thing.

Obviously, Auntie was never a Boy Scout. Less obviously, I was never a Girl Scout either, but somewhere along the way I picked up a sense of duty and responsibility. Maybe it was when I also picked up the responsibilities.

That said, it’s two days after I started to write this and I still haven’t been back to the gym. I did pick up after the dog, though. There are some things you just don’t procrastinate.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Matter Of Manners

This was supposed to be a tweet, but I couldn’t condense it down to 140. Gird your collective e-loins, my angels, and prepare for a rant. Here we go...

Manners are more important than intelligence.

Yes, I can count. I know that was far fewer than 140 characters, smarty pants. Read for content next time before you mouth off.

The point merits – nay, requires -- elaboration.

When I say “manners” I’m not talking about etiquette. I don’t care which fork you use on your grapefruit, or if you know the proper way to address a thank-you note to an Archbishop who is also an Earl.

I said manners and I meant manners. Also known as courtesy, politeness, or, in extreme cases (you know who you are and I adore you for it) graciousness. All of which pretty much boils down to treating people with respect. As social skills go, this reigns supreme.

But Auntie, you say, stupidity is more annoying than rudeness!

Calm down, there’s no need for exclamation marks. In theory, you’re right.

See what I did there? I treated your objection with respect by acknowledging it politely. Now I can disagree with you because you’re being an intellectual snob.

Stupid is as stupid does. As a civilization, we like us some bimbos. Goofily good-natured characters have been endearing us at least since ancient Mesopotamia. (That wacky Gilgamesh! And Enkidu! What zany nuts.)

We might forgive lost tourists who neglect to turn on a green arrow, but not if they’re texting while driving, which, aside from being rude, also happens to be against the law.

Not funny, but a rough segue to the comedic Law Of Three because I walked away from my desk and left this draft for so long I forgot where I was going with it and now I’m stuck trying to come up with one more example of stupidity versus rudeness other than a discussion of the semiotic differences between “Fuck off” and “Fuck you.”

Oh, right. Stupidity is annoying, but it’s not our problem. We take rudeness personally, so don’t be rude.

The flip side, and where all this was going before I had to go check the oven to be sure I didn’t burn everyone’s dinner, is that if you do end up doing something stupid, no matter how embarrassed you are, try to be gracious about it.

In other words, it’s better to be a nice, polite idiot than a smart-assed dick.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Belated Happy Anniversary!

Oopsies! Auntie missed a milestone. That last post was my 500th.

The first one was dated August 2nd, 2011. Let’s see. That many weeks, divided by something, subtracting posts I deleted because I decided later that they didn’t work… yeah, 500 sounds about right.

Excusez moi, mes cheris. Did you expect me to look back and discuss Wisdom Learned? Please, we’d both be bored.

Besides, I’m not sure I learned any, except that self-imposed deadlines can be as nasty as the real thing.

But, since today is August 6th, I also missed our anniversary, so double oopsies.

If any of you have been here since the beginning, then I should give you a gift. Hmm. If the 25th is silver and the 50th is gold, what’s 500?

I think I owe you a puppy.

Erratum: Turns out I was ridiculously wrong. I didn't click back far enough. This is my 501st post, but the first one was on 9/23/08. I still owe you a puppy.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Public Education

The phone rang last night. A perky young random student from my alma mater was calling to “catch up” – Really? With a total stranger? -- and incidentally solicit funds along the way.

First, it’s puzzling. I graduated in 1983, in another city. They called me once when I was still at my student phone number, but not since then. 30 years without a call. How retroactively neglectful of them.

Secondly, it’s creepy. I never gave them this number, any more than I gave them the (correct) home address they wanted me to verify.

Robert was listening to my side of the conversation. He pointed out that this phone isn’t even in my name.

Of course I explained all that to Miss Congeniality. She graciously offered to ask her supervisor how they got my info. Of course the supervisor “didn’t know.”

Universities probably don’t acknowledge the Internet. It’s a conflict of interest.

Little Missy and I had a fine old giggle over how stalker-esque it all seemed, then I got serious and pointed out that it really did. After all this time they had personal information I never gave them, nor ever authorized them to get. It’s not as bad as the guy who followed me around when I was 20, but it still sounds like stalking to me.

She was smart enough to agree, but she still asked for a donation.

I suppose I ought to have been grateful that she got any of what I was saying. Her generation (which is your generation too, sweetie) has no expectation of privacy, after all. You guys know about the Internet. My generation only uses it to propagate pix of their grandchildren. That, and troll eBay.

For the record, I have no children, let alone grandchildren, and I’ve never been on eBay.

She expected me to want to update my file. Was I supposed to be flattered that someone cared if I ever monetized my Philosophy major? That’s a philosophical question. Give me a quarter and the answer will be yes.

Then again, please don’t. They’ll just want the quarter.

In closing, she said, “We still don’t have an email address for you.”

Even though she couldn’t see it, I smiled gently before I answered, “Let’s keep it that way.”

I’m checking my inbox anyhow, just in case.